It seems like Texas has more singer-songwriters than the other 49 states combined—but it also produces some damn talented ones. Houston-born Hayes Carll is a rising star following in the tradition of such sharp-tongued storytellers as Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen and Guy Clark. Carll populates his Lost Highway debut, Trouble in Mind (which follows several critically praised, little-heard indie releases), with a colorful cast of characters. There's Kate, "who's as pretty as a plate," and the guy whose girl dumped him for Jesus ("And that's not fair/She says that's he's perfect/How can I compare?"), as well as the "barefoot shrimper with a pistol up his sleeve" and "an old lion tamer parked behind the bar."
And now there's Carll headlining his own gigs. Two Austin acts, Band of Heathens and Jason Eady, open.